1 EDTHP 597C Final paper Xuan Liu 12/28/09 The Role of School in Preventing Substance Use among Latino Youth

: A Literature Review High rates of substance use among Latino youth in the United States and its shortterm and potentially long-term detrimental impact has drawn great attention in the research literature and researchers have identified families, communities and schools as the strongest source of risk and protection. This literature review specifically focuses on the relationship between school attributes and Latino youth’s substance use. It aims at bringing together information, including relevant theories and empirical research that offers insights into the role of school in preventing substance use among Latino youth. In so doing, it tries to point out the gap in existing research and offers suggestions to guide future researchers and policymakers to identify promising prevention and intervention strategies at the school level targeting Latino youth.

1. Introduction
In the United States, adolescent substance use has become a serious concern nationwide for decades. It poses one of the biggest challenges for American youth since it is commonly acknowledged that substance use at an early time is correlated with health problem, poor academic performance and other antisocial behaviors. According to the 2000 census, the Latino population is the most rapidly increasing immigrant group in the United States and it is relatively youthful compared with the total U.S. population. Therefore, Latinos make up a large portion of

2 the youth population. It is necessary and important to learn more about substance use patterns within this group and how to prevent it. Substance use is frequently used as a marker to assess the implication of assimilation. Most studies in substance use by Latino youth have examined the impact of assimilation and their findings support segmented assimilation theory. Needless to say, school is an important agency in Latino youth’s assimilating process and school attributes (school capital) might have a great impact on their substance use problems. Therefore, this literature review specifically focuses on the relationship between school attributes and substance use among Latino youth. It aims at bringing together information, including relevant assimilation theories and empirical research that offers insights into the role of school in preventing substance use among Latino youth, as well points out the gap in existing research and offers suggestions for future study. The research questions addressed in this review are as follows: (a) Is there a risk of assimilating in terms of substance use for Latino youth? (b) What are the patterns and consequences of substance use by Latino youth, compared with the white youth and other ethnic youth? (c) What is the relationship between school attributes and substance use by Latino youth? (d) What suggestions can be made to improve school-based prevention programs for Latino youth? This review is organized as follows: (a) It starts with a brief review of the major theoretical models of assimilation and the impact of school capital in assimilation. To be specific, the theories include classic straight-line assimilation theory, new assimilation theory and segmented assimilation theory. (b) This section covers the patterns of substance use by Latino youth and as well the severe consequences they suffer from. In particular, it compares substance use by Latino youth with the white youth and other ethnic groups. It also compares

3 substance use by immigrant Latino youth and U.S.-born Latino youth. (c) Here literature related to the relationship between schools attributes and substance use by Latino youth will be reviewed. In order to know the attributes of schools that Latino youth often attend, literature related to school segregation will also be reviewed in this section. (d) Last but not least, this part points out the gap in existing research and offers suggestions for future researchers and policymakers to improve school environment and strengthen the role of school in preventing substance use among Latino youth.

2. Review of the literature
2.1. Assimilation: good or bad? 2.1.1. Three major assimilation theories As mentioned earlier, substance use is frequently used as a marker to measure the implications of assimilation. In order to understand the relationship between assimilation and substance use, it is important to understand the conceptualization of assimilation and relative assimilation theories first. Gordon (1964) has described assimilation as both “cultural assimilation” through which immigrants adopt the mainstream culture and “structural assimilation” through which affiliations develop between immigrants and the majority. His classic straight-line model of assimilation suggests that assimilation should lead to positive outcomes and it is an integral part of immigrants moving up into the American middle class. However, he ignores that acculturation might also lead to undesirable behaviors as long as they are elements of the mainstream culture, such as substance use. Some researchers have questioned the applicability of classic straight-line assimilation to contemporary immigrants on the grounds that they are different from the early European immigrants. Alba and Nee (1997, 2003) propose the new assimilation theory. They argue that assimilation is not merely a product of a set of specific historical situations and classic

4 assimilation theory can be applied to contemporary immigrants as well. To them, assimilation has been and will be “the master trend”. More importantly, they define assimilation as a process of decreasing differences between groups and stress that not only immigrants but also the host society itself are changing in the process of assimilation. Similar as classic straight-line assimilation theory, new assimilation theory also ignores the negative outcomes that assimilation might bring about. Substance use is a case in point. Empirical evidence has rejected the straight-line assimilation model (Gans, 1992). Assimilation is not always beneficial. Portes and Zhou (1993) provide an alternative viewpoint on assimilation and propose the segmented assimilation theory. They argue that due to the fundamental inequity of the American society, different groups may assimilate into different segments of the society. Social, cultural and human capitals are important determinants of immigrants’ assimilation trajectories. According to them, there are three discrete paths of becoming American: (a) assimilating and moving up into the white middle class, (b) assimilating into the underclass and leading to poverty and downward mobility, (c) achieving upward mobility with some assimilation, but also preserving culture from their origin. Based on segmented assimilation theory, assimilation can be detrimental when immigrants follow the second path and merge into the underclass. In that case, immigrants are more likely to adopt the unhealthy and antisocial behaviors that are prevalent among the underclass, such as substance use. Some studies have supported this claim. (Wiecha, 1996; Greenman & Xie, 2008) Conversely, if immigrants follow the third path, having selective assimilation and preserving their original culture, it might be beneficial. With respect to preventing substance use, this points to the importance of maintaining immigrants’ cultural identity.

5 2.1.2. School capital and Substance Use According to segmented assimilation theory, the availability of social, cultural and human capital plays an important role in determining immigrants’ assimilation trajectory. A good deal of studies has already pointed to the importance of parental human capital, family structure, community capital, models of incorporation, peer influences. (e.g., Portes & Zhou, 1993; Kao & Tienda, 1995; Zhou & Bankston, 1998). However, the impact of school capital is least studied. After all, school is one of the most possible places that immigrant youth become exposed to mainstream American culture, interact with children of different ethnicities, and form beliefs about norms of behaviors. School capital exerts a great influence on immigrants’ assimilation trajectories. In this review, we view substance use problem as a force which very likely leads to downward assimilation. Effectively addressing and preventing substance use among school-age youth is a way to prevent them from downward assimilation. We hypothesize that school capital exerts an influence on substance use among Latino youth. Later we will review the relative literature to see whether such an association exists or not. In so doing, we might be able to prevent and intervene with substance use problems among Latino youth at the school level and thus prevent them from severe consequence of substance use, including dropping out of school. Our review later covers school attributes such as school personnel, student-teacher bond, students’ academic performance, oppositional culture atmosphere within the school, etc. 2.2. Substance Use by immigrant and U.S.-born Latino youth Some studies have shown that several Latino subgroups such as Mexican-American and Puerto Rican are at especially high risk for substance use (Haberman, 1987). However, research has also consistently shown that the prevalence rate of substance use is not higher for Latino youth, compared with the general population (e.g., Kandel, 1995; Wallace et al., 1995). Though

6 the prevalence rate of substance use is not particularly high for Latino youth, there is considerable evidence that Latino youth are at a higher risk of suffering from severe consequences of substance use, including poor health, school failure and even incarceration (e.g., Kandel, 1995; Wallace et al., 1995). For example, Latino youth are far more likely to drop out of school than their non-Latino peers (Fry, 2003). Garcia (2001) also reports that Latino youth have had the highest high school dropout rates and lowest rates for college attendance for years. Meier and Stewart (1991) state that Latino youth are over-represented in most categories of crisis and failure such as expulsions while underrepresented in categories of success such as honor classes. These studies all suggest Latino youth are extremely vulnerable to the negative consequences of substance use. However, it must be noted that these studies do not show a clear cause-and-effect relation between substance use and school dropout. More research needs to be done in this area. Some studies have also documented that Latino youth might initiate the use of substances earlier than the white youth and other ethnic groups. For example, the ongoing Monitoring the Future project which begins in 1975 investigates youngsters in the 8th, 10th and 12th grades. Their findings show that Latino youth in the 8th grade have higher use of substances than white and African-American 8th graders (Johnston, O’Malley & Bachman, 2000). Sussman et al. (1996) report that Latino youth may have an earlier age of initiation of marijuana use than other groups. These findings all point out that Latino youth might start the use of substances earlier. Of great noteworthiness is that very little research has examined why Latino youth initiate substance use earlier. It is worth investigating the reasons of early substance use among Latino youth in order to nip it in the bud. Taken together, the studies mentioned above suggest that while the prevalence rate of substance use is not particularly higher among Latino youth, compared with

7 the general population, they are more likely to initiate the use of substances earlier and suffer from severe outcomes of substance use, including poor health, school failure and other antisocial behaviors. It is important to prevent and intervene with substance use problems among Latino youth at a very early stage of their school years. Previous research has also shown that the prevalence rate of substance use is higher among U.S.-born Latino youth than immigrant Latino youth. For example, Gil et al. (2000) found higher rates of alcohol use among U.S.-born Latino youth than among immigrant Latino youth in South Florida. Gfroerer and Tan (2003) report higher rates of alcohol use among U.S.born Mexican than immigrant Mexicans and the difference decreases with length of U.S. residence. Generational difference exists as well. Hussey et al. (2007) reported that alcohol use is highest among second generation Latino, followed by third and then first generation. These findings have rejected the straight-line assimilation theory and supported the segmented assimilation theory. They indicate that assimilation is not always beneficial and it is positively associated with substance use, at least among Latino youth. 2.3. School attributes and substance use among Latino youth 2.3.1. Latino youth in segregated schools In order to investigate the relationship between school attributes and substance use by Latino youth, it is necessary to find out what kinds of schools that Latino youth often attend. Previous research has shown that Latino youth are more likely than any other ethnic group to be enrolled in schools that are not only segregated by race, but by class as well (Orfield & Eaton, 1996). They are experiencing some of the highest levels of school segregation. Oakes (2002) reports that Latino youth are disproportionately consigned to low-income and high-minority public schools with limited resources. Those schools are usually over-crowded, under-funded and academically inadequate. Within these schools, there are greater concentration of health,

8 social and neighborhood problems. There is also evidence that the trend of segregation for Latino youth has continued to increase. (Orfield et al., 1994) 2.3.2. School capital and substance use by Latino Youth Within the segregated schools, school capital is very limited (e.g., Ellen et al., 2002; Schwartz & Stiefel, 2004). Here we divide the school capital into three categories: social, human and financial capitals. School social capital refers to bonds between parents and schools, bonds between students and teachers, peer relationship, school ethnic composition, etc. Parcel & Dufur (2001a) claim that the social ties that students and parents create with schools may provide social capital in the form of obligations, information and beliefs that benefit student experiences and achievement. For example, strong student-teacher bond and parent-teacher bond might help the students form positive beliefs about schooling and prevent them from delinquent behaviors such as substance use. School human and financial capital refers to the quality of the school personnel such as teachers, the quality of the curriculum, school funding, etc. As mentioned earlier, the schools that Latino youth attend are oftentimes low-income and high-minority urban public schools with limited resources. In other words, they have less qualified teachers, less school funding, weaker curriculum, compared with private schools and catholic schools. Studies have consistently shown that students in such schools are more likely to fail academically. Little research has directly examined the relationship between school capital and substance use. However, research has shown that limited school capital leads to poor academic performance (e.g. Parcel & Dufur, 2001b) and academic failure might lead to delinquent behaviors such as substance use (e.g., Gottfredson, 2000). It is a chain reaction. Research has also shown an association between educational aspirations, school involvement, attitudes toward school and delinquent behaviors (e.g. Hallfors et al., 2006). Within the segregated schools that Latino youth often attend, there is a great concentration of immigrant minority students who are

9 more likely to develop an oppositional culture towards schooling and social norms (Obgu, 1988). It is entirely possible that the school norms of substance use are misleading. More research needs to be done in this area to investigate whether a high concentration of minority students affect the school norms of delinquent behaviors such as substance use. It is also noteworthy that since the dropout rate of Latino youth is particularly high, it is entirely possible that those Latino youth who are still in schools might have a lot of dropout friends who might exert a negative influence on them in terms of delinquent behaviors. Similarly, little research has been conducted in this direction. Obviously, much more research needs to be done to investigate how school capital might influence how and to what degree substance use problems might occur among Latino youth. Two generalizations can be drawn from studies so far. First, limited school capital might lead to academic failure which might lead to substance use problems. It must be noted, however, the relationship between academic failure and substance use is not unidirectional but bidirectional. One thing we learned from this is that improving educational quality of schools that Latino youth attend is a key point. Second, school segregation might lead to less school capital and a strong oppositional culture among students. Integrating schools is another important way to help Latino youth.

3. Needs for Additional Research and Implications for Prevention
The review so far has looked at the theoretical models of assimilation, the patterns and consequences of substance use among Latino youth, the characteristics of segregated schools that Latino youth often attend, and the limited research about the relationship between school attributes and substance use problems among Latino youth. To sum up, studies in substance use among Latino youth have supported segmented assimilation theory. The findings suggest that assimilation is positively related to substance use.

10 The prevalence rate of substance use is higher among U.S.-born Latino youth than immigrant Latino-youth and second generation Latinos are at the highest risk of substance use. It has also been suggested that Latino youth might initiate the use of substances earlier than other ethnic groups and they are more likely to suffer from severe consequences of substance use, including dropping out of school. Such academic failure might lead them to downward assimilation and endure long-term poverty. Therefore, due to Latino youth’s great vulnerability to the negative consequences of substance use and their early initiation of substance use, it is extremely important to prevent the occurrence of this problem among them at an early stage. According to segmented assimilation theory, school capital is an important determinant of immigrants’ assimilation trajectories. Since substance use problem is a potential marker of downward assimilation, we hypothesize that school capital might exert an influence on substance use, too. However, relatively little research has been done in this area. Research so far only indicates an indirect impact of school capital on substance use problems among Latino youth in a way that limited school capital leads to academic failure then leads to delinquent behaviors. It is worth investigating how and to what degree does school capital (such as the quality of school personnel, the quality of school curriculum, the student-teacher bonds, parents-school bonds, school funding, school ethnic composition, etc. ) affect substance use among Latino youth. More research needs to be done. This review also has great implications for school-based prevention programs addressing the particular needs of Latino youth. First, since Latino youth tends to initiate the use of substances earlier than we assume, the school-based prevention programs should begin at an earlier stage or it can be even incorporated from the beginning of their schooling in the U.S. Second, Research already shows that assimilation is positively associated with substance use

11 among Latino youth. According to segmented assimilation theory, selective assimilation with preservation of original culture might be beneficial for some groups. Therefore, the school-based prevention programs should be culturally sensitive and help Latino youth maintain their culture identity. Incorporating Latino culture within the school curriculum might be a possible way. Third, the fact that Latino youth are often in segregated public schools with limited resources should draw the attention of policymakers. Within such schools, they are more likely to fail academically and suffer from delinquent behaviors such as substance use. They are also more likely to develop an oppositional culture and have misleading school norms of behaviors. Efforts should always be made to integrate schools and provide Latino youth with equal educational opportunities.

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